5 Minutes Alone… with Celina Summers

Celina Summers is an author of speculative fiction and a blogger.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our new “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Celina: Aside from journalistic credits in high school and college, my first publication credit was the first book of my epic fantasy series The Asphodel Cycle. The Asphodel Cycle is a reworking of the Trojan War mythology, using fantasy archetypes in place of and in addition to the Greco-Roman lore. The novel is called The Reckoning of Asphodel and much to my surprise it went to # 1 on the Fictionwise bestseller list for Fantasy in the summer of 2007.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Celina: My latest release is the third book in the series, entitled Temptation of Asphodel. In this book, my heroine Tamsen de Asphodel must overcome the temptations thrown in her path by the gods who are working against her. If she fails, an entire race of mortals will cease to exist. If she succeeds, then she will lead an alliance of nations back to the plains of Ilia where they will fight the greatest war of ancient history again. The Asphodel stories center around a strong female protagonist who is equally at home in the complex world of politics, the luxuries of a royal Court or on a battlefield. Although she is a pawn in a wager of the gods, she discovers that even a pawn can change the course of the game.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Celina: I was blessed with extraordinary teachers throughout my life. My Latin teachers in high school were a husband and wife team, Grady and Dr. Kaye Warren. They gave me a background in classics that persists to this day and inspired the Asphodel series from the beginning. My high school English teacher, the late Kitty Savage, was the first person who convinced me that I could—and would—be a writer. I never had a teacher push me as hard as she did. She taught me that just writing well wasn’t enough. Rewriting well was the skill that she forced me to learn. And, finally, Dr. Howard Stein, a former Associate Dean of the Yale School of Drama and Chairman of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies at Columbia University, taught me in a college master class in playwriting. He gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received as a writer. “Celina, a lot of people will say to write what you know. For you, it’s going to be different. Know what you write.” He gave me permission, in a way, to explore the outer reaches of my imagination for inspiration. I think he knew, before anyone else did, that speculative fiction was going to be the realm I flourished in. I took his advice to heart, and as a result I know my characters and the worlds that they live in.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Celina: I write best at night. Although I do a lot of work during the day, my best writing happens when the house is quiet and dark and everyone else is asleep. Then I turn on my writing music and lose myself in the story. If I’m writing a climactic scene, I always write it at night, by myself in my study.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Celina: The most important part of writing is rewriting. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft…or a second draft. When you’re churning out that first draft, you’re throwing the bare bones of a story onto paper, like Dr. Frankenstein attaching parts to his experimental body. It’s when you’re rewriting that those bones flesh out into an entity that will take its first, shuddering breath. It’s only after rewriting that electricity will course through your words and your story will live.

For the very young writers, the ones still in school, listen carefully. Cherish your teachers. Absorb what they have to share with you. Finally, at the end of your time with them, thank them for setting your feet upon the paths of literature.

2 Responses to “5 Minutes Alone… with Celina Summers”

  1. Koolaid Says:

    This is an actual piece of the new book that’s supposed to convince us to buy it?

    “The ravine Wilden found was tiny, no more than a niche in the towering bluff of the mountain. Despite its sheltered location, it was crammed with life–trees, shrubs, trailing kudzu wines that crept up the mountainside and huge patches of wildflowers. I frowned as we entered; the quantity of plants was overwhelming, almost obscene. The ravine seemed to go back a little way into the mountain, but the profusion of thorny shrubs only twenty feet from the edge prohibited further exploration. We made our camp on the outer lip of the ravine, while above us the skies grew laden with moisture.”

    Really?

    It’s a shame that this writer seems inclined to give advice that she herself ignores. This is the stuff of a “rewrite”? After all of the pretentious banter in this interview, I suppose I expected better.

  2. Celina Summers Says:

    Koolaid, thank you for the feedback. I realize that my writing style is not universally enjoyed, but that’s one of the great things about writing–there’s room for all sorts of tastes and inclinations. Best of luck on your future endeavors.

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